They Can See Right Through You

Searching online reviews has become a critical step in the decision-making process for consumers. A 2013 study by Bright Local indicates that 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust personalized recommendations from friends. Users have come to rely on online reviews to buy everything from books to automobiles to financial planning services.

So it was only a matter of time before online reviews became a critical step in the job-search process. Employer review websites like Glassdoor and Indeed have surged in popularity over the last several years. People use these websites to "peek into" life at different organizations, to get a better understanding of what it's like to work there. They look up salary ranges, employee satisfaction levels, management style, career growth opportunities, and more before they even apply for open positions.

So what does this mean for hiring managers? How do sites like Glassdoor and Indeed affect your ability to fill open positions, and how can you use your profiles to help you attract and retain strong candidates?

What are Indeed and Glassdoor?

Glassdoor is often referred to as the Yelp of job searching. Just as consumers use Yelp to investigate restaurants and businesses, job seekers use Glassdoor to investigate potential employers. The site receives around seven million unique U.S.-based visitors a month (with another million visits to the mobile site). Daily views can often top over one million a day.

Job seekers can view salary ranges posted by former and current employees, as well as detailed company reviews, and advice on what to expect from the interview process. They can also see current job openings and research the organization's key management staff.

Indeed is a little bit different. It is an aggregator that allows job seekers to search almost all online job postings from one platform -- it's the Google of job searches. The site gets around five million unique U.S.-based visitors per month and can get upwards of two million page views per month.

As job seekers utilize the primary search function, they can see a star rating next to each company's name based upon the total number of online employee reviews. They can also see company photos, all current job postings, and have access to a Q&A forum.

How do Candidates use Employer Review Sites?

Job seekers use this vast sea of information to help them make decisions at various points throughout their employment search. A recent poll of 4,633 job seekers conducted by Software Advice found that:

  • Just about half of the survey respondents used Glassdoor during their job search.
  • 15 percent turned to Glassdoor after receiving an offer to help them decide whether or not to take the position.
  • The "freshest" reviews (those posted within the last six months) have the biggest impact on a searcher's perception of an organization.

Job seekers use the sites differently throughout the course of their search. Before a person even considers leaving their current position, they may use these sites casually, browsing them to narrow down targets based on overall ratings.

And when they dig in and really begin a targeted job search, they will use these listings to determine a company's:

  • Culture
  • Values
  • Compensation and benefits packages
  • Management style
  • Career growth potential
  • Work-life balance

If they land an interview, they may scour the listings even more closely to determine what will be expected of them throughout the process, and whether or not they have opportunities for career growth if they are, in fact, offered a position. If they receive an offer, they look to the reviews to get a better understanding of the culture and daily environment, paying particular attention to reviews that reference management style.

The amount of detail available to job seekers has made employment websites an invaluable asset to those on the hunt for new opportunities. That's why it's so important to monitor your organization's reviews. Negative information has a way of spreading quickly, and can overshadow a company's most positive aspects. When talented job seekers log in and see a slew of negative remarks, they may be less likely to apply for open positions.

Promote Your Employment Brand

Many organizations don't realize just how important their employment brand is when it comes to recruiting and hiring the right people. And it doesn't matter how large or how small the company-- any business with employees has an employment brand. According to the Employment Branding eBook, an employment brand is, "the way your organization's prospective applicants, candidates, and employees perceive you as an employer." Your employment brand should communicate your company's culture, as well as its mission and values. This gives people a reason to want to come and work for you, and to stay with your company for the long term once they are hired.

Taking control of your Indeed and Glassdoor profiles is one way to manage your online employment reputation. Anybody can register for a free user profile, so it can be difficult to control what potentially disgruntled employees post about your organization. But if you maintain your company listing, you can get a handle on your profile and help manage your employment brand.

Claiming a company listing on Indeed and Glassdoor is free for both websites. Once the listing is claimed, organizations can begin taking control of their employment brand by:

  • Updating the basic company profile.
  • Adding links to the organization's main website.
  • Uploading photos to help give job seekers an idea of what the company looks like and what the company culture feels like.
  • Mentioning workplace-related accolades and awards.
  • Responding to reviews and forum questions.

In addition to taking control of your profile, one of the best ways to improve your online profile on Glassdoor and Indeed is to encourage happy employees to post reviews. If you have a low average rating, this can help boost the numbers and improve the "freshness" of your company's reviews.

Retain Talent and Discover Opportunities

Employee satisfaction is the key to retaining talent. Satisfied employees are far less likely to seek out new opportunities than those who are not. Recruiting managers can look to Indeed and Glassdoor as a way to gain valuable insight into what their employees think and how they feel about their jobs. It's much easier for someone to be honest online than it is to be open with a supervisor or an HR representative. These websites can be a free and easy way to gather intelligence about employee satisfaction and morale. All companies should take the time to study their reviews to see how satisfied their workforce truly is.

Salary and benefits are obvious areas of dissatisfaction to watch for, but it can also be important to determine what employees truly think about their managers and supervisors. As the old HR adage goes, "Employees don't leave jobs, they leave their managers." If there are a host of reviews that indicate that supervisors micromanage or are out of touch with employees' needs and job duties, your company may want to dig a little deeper to see how they can improve relationships between supervisors and reports.

But it's not all "doom and gloom" out there. Online reviews can also lead you to positive insights, as well. If you discover that a new flex-time program is resonating well with employees, you may wish to highlight that benefit in your job postings, or post detailed information about the program in your "Why Work for Us" section of Glassdoor and on your company website.

Use Review Sites to Your Advantage

Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed can be detrimental to your organization's recruiting efforts if you don't know what's out there. Negative information has the potential to deter new talent, but when you know what's being said, you have the opportunity to change the conversation.

The insight that hiring teams can gain from Indeed and Glassdoor can be invaluable. If you haven't yet investigated your company's online employer profiles, and if your company hasn't claimed its listings on these sites, set aside time to do so soon. It can help you get a better understanding of your current workforce and can help you recruit and retain strong, new talent.